by Dr Roger Pielke, Sr.
With the McShane and Wyler paper examining and questioning the method, this look at the proxy data and its problems seems like a relevant issue to review.
There was an interesting conclusion in a New York Times article on the relationship between tree ring proxy temperature trend analyses and thermometer type measures of temperature anomalies and trends. The article is
British Panel Clears Scientists by Justin Gillis published on July 7, 2010
The relevant text is on page 2 it is written
“But they were dogged by a problem: Since around 1960, for mysterious reasons, trees have stopped responding to temperature increases in the same way they apparently did in previous centuries. If plotted on a chart, tree rings from 1960 forward appear to show declining temperatures, something that scientists know from thermometer readings is not accurate.”
There are, however, problems with this conclusion. Since the thermometers are not coincident in location with the tree ring data (in the same local area), it would not be surprising that they are different. Indeed, this is yet another example that implies unresolved biases and uncertainties in the surface temperature thermometer type data as we discussed in several of our papers (see and see), as the thermometers are measuring elsewhere then where the proxy tree data is obtained. This obvious issue has been ignored in the assessment of this so-called divergence between the two methods to evaluate temperature anomalies and trends.
It is possible, of course, that the trees are responding differently due to the biogeochemical effect of added carbon dioxide and/or nitrogen deposition. Nonetheless, to accept the thermometer record as the more robust measurement of spatial representative temperatures is premature.
I have discussed this issue further in the posts